Kranjcar targets more Wembley joy

Thursday, 22, May, 2014
Kranjcar wins the FA Cup in 2008

Niko Kranjcar admits he has a third Wembley success in his cross-hair when Queens Park Rangers face Derby County in Saturday’s Championship Play-Off Final.

Kranjcar opened the scoring for Croatia against England back in 2007 on a fateful night for the Three Lions and was also part of the Portsmouth team which went on to lift The FA Cup the following year.

And the Croatian wide man admits he has particularly fond memories of the latter.

“The national game against England was more about pride because we had already qualified but winning The FA Cup is something special because it wins you a trophy,” Kranjcar told WembleyStadium.com.

“No-one expected us to win it that season even though we had a really impressive team so that FA Cup Final will always be very special to me.”

The former Portsmouth star admits lifting that trophy under the arch remains the high point of his career but if his team can come out on top at the weekend he might have a new number one.

“Promotion on Saturday would rank very high. It would probably be as big as winning The FA Cup because everyone wrote us off before the play-offs,” said Kranjcar.

“Everyone believed we were over paid and over rated footballers that hadn’t produced this season.  The way we won the second leg against Wigan made us really proud and confident we can go on and do what we believe we should have done already this season.

“We have a second chance now and we have to take it.”

In QPR’s way are Steve McClaren’s in-form Derby side.

The Rams’ boss, of course, has history with Kranjcar after being in charge of the England side which the winger helped eliminate on that wet night at Wembley in 2007.

And the Croat is hopeful that history can repeat itself.

“Hopefully it will be raining and the same thing will happen,” he joked.

“I have great respect for Steve, when I came to QPR we had him as a coach and I rate him really highly as a manager and as a person.

“But this weekend you want the best for yourself, your team-mates and your club so I hope the same thing happens that happened in the international game.”

But did the midfielder ever mention his Wembley goal to McClaren during their time together at Loftus Road?

“I never once mentioned that goal to Steve,” he admitted with a smile, “I wanted to be in the team so I stayed away from it!”

Many bookmakers see Saturday’s Final as too close to call and there was little to choose between the teams in the league this season with Derby and QPR winning one each of their two match ups both by a solitary goal margin.

And Kranjcar admits he too sees it being a very tight game at the weekend.

“In a one off Play-Off Final there are no under dogs and no favourites,” he said.

“I think we’ve got two very different teams. One is quite young and inexperienced but coming off a really good run and the other is full of players that have played international football and still play international football.”

“I think the atmosphere will be great, it’ll be an atmosphere that every footballer will want to play in.”

“The QPR fans have been exceptional so I hope they have a great day out at Wembley at cheer us on to victory”